(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Population Status Report, Northern Bobwhite and Ring-Necked Pheasant – 2010"

POPULATION STATUS REPORT 
NORTHERN BOBWHITE and RING-NECKED PHEASANT - 2010 

Beth Emmerich, Agricultural Wildlife Ecologist 
Missouri Department of Conservation 



WEATHER SUMMARY 

The winter of 2009-2010 was characterized by colder than normal temperatures and 
above average snowfall. Portions of northwestern Missouri reported nearly 50 inches of snow, 
and snow remained on the ground from December through the end of February due to cold 
temperatures. The northern part of the state received between 20-40 inches of snow, and the rest 
of the state ranged between 10-20 inches of snow. Periods of prolonged snow cover will result 
in high mortality rates of quail, reducing the number of birds available for breeding in the spring. 
The spring of 2010 brought slightly above normal temperatures, and March and April were 
slightly drier than average. May rainfall averaged about 2 inches above normal statewide. 
Summer rainfall was variable throughout the state, with the northern portion averaging higher 
than normal (much higher in places) while southern Missouri experienced lower than average 
rainfall amounts. Wet springs can hamper nest success and chick survival. Spring 2010 brought 
the 3"^ year in a row of unseasonably wet spring weather for northern Missouri. Table 1 lists 
winter snowfall and spring/summer rainfall averages and departures from normal by MDC 
administrative region. A map of MDC administrative regions is shown in Figure la. 



TABLE 1. Missouri 2009-2010 winter snowfall and spring/summer rainfall summary. 

MDC Administrative Regions' 

NE NW C KC STL OZ SE SW 

Winter^ 2009-2010 snowfall (inches) 
Departure^ from normal (inches) 

Spring/Summer "* rainfall (inches) 
Departure from normal (inches) 



1. Map of MDC Administrative regions shown in Figure la. 

2. Winter snowfall is the average total for the region from November 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010. 

3. Departure calculated from 1971-2000 norms. 

4. Spring/summer rainfall is the average total for the region from April 1 through August 3 1, 2010. 



30.3 


42.0 


20.7 


20.0 


11.7 


9.7 


10.7 


20.1 


+4.5 


+18.0 


+0.3 


+5.4 


+2.1 


+7.7 


-3.7 


+0.6 


37.3 


27.5 


20.7 


31.0 


24.1 


14.5 


18.6 


21.4 


-16.0 


+5.7 


+5.4 


+10.3 


+4.1 


-5.5 


-2.0 


+0.6 



QUAIL ABUNDANCE 

Conservation Agents conducted roadside counts of bobwhite quail from August 1-15 in 110 of 
Missouri's 114 counties. Clay, Jackson, St. Louis, and St. Charles counties are not included 
because they are high-density urban areas near Kansas City and St. Louis. Surveyors count the 
number of quail observed while driving < 20 miles per hour along permanent 30-mile gravel 
road routes. Participants are instructed to conduct counts beginning at sunrise on clear, dewy 
mornings with light winds to increase chances that bobwhites will be near roadsides. These 
observations are used to provide an index of quail abundance across the landscape. Because only 
a small portion of each county is sampled, the index best represents quail population trends at 
large scales, such as statewide and multi-county blocks such as the zoogeographic region. The 
statewide long-term trend of the index closely follows other statewide indices of abundance 
including the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and Missouri quail harvest estimates. 
The roadside survey routes are located almost entirely through private land, so the quail index is 
a reflection of conditions on Missouri's private lands. 

This year's statewide index of 2.2 quail per 30-mile route is 17% below last year's index 
of 2.7. This is 29% below the 5-year average (2005-2009) and 37%) below the 10-year average 
(2000-2009) (Table 2). Production appeared to be low this year at the time of the survey with 
the statewide average chick count at 0.7, which was slightly lower than last year (0.8). Total 
quail counts were variable among zoogeographic regions with counts being highest in the 
Mississippi Lowlands (3.7), followed by the Northeast Riverbreaks (2.7) and the Western Prairie 
(2.3). Counts were lowest in the Northwest Prairie (1.5) and the Northern Riverbreaks and 
Western Ozark Border (both at 1.9) (Table 2). Statewide long-term trends (1983-2010) are 
shown in Figure 2 and trends by zoogeographic region are shown in Figure 3. Both figures 
illustrate a long-term downward trend in bobwhite populations. 



TABLE 2. Average number of quail counted per 30-mile route by Conservation Agents along 
110 routes during August 1-15, 2010. 



Zoogeographic 
Region' 


#of 

Routes 

In 

2010 


Quail 
counted 

2010 


Quail 
counted 

2009 


Long Term 
Average 

1983-2009 


% CHANGE 
from Long- 
Term Average 


% CHANGE 
2009 to 2010 


Northwest Prairie 


11 


1.45 


4.18 


7.51 


-80.7% 


-65.3% 


Northern 
Riverbreaks 


11 


1.91 


2.91 


7.45 


-74.4% 


-34.4% 


Northeast 
Riverbreaks 


20 


2.70 


2.70 


9.10 


-70.3% 


0% 


Western 
Prairie 


12 


2.25 


3.08 


14.58 


-84.6% 


-26.9% 


Western Ozark 
Border 


13 


1.85 


3.92 


6.59 


-71.9% 


-52.8% 


Ozark Plateau 


24 


2.00 


2.0 


2.91 


-31.2% 


0% 


Northern & Eastern 
Ozark Border 


12 


2.17 


1.25 


2.69 


-19.4% 


73.6% 


Mississippi 
Lowlands 


7 


3.71 


1.43 


5.50 


-32.6% 


159.4% 


Statewide 


110 


2.20 


2.66 


6.87 


-68.01% 


-17.3% 



See figure lb. 



Northeast Region {ME) 



Northwest Region (NW) 



Kansas City Regioh {KC) _ __ 



Southwest Region (SW) 




St Louis Regioh (STL) 



■outheast Region tSE_ 



FIGURE la. MDC administrative regions. 



Northwestern 
Prairie 



Nortliern Riverbreal<s 



Western Prairie 



Western Ozarl\ 
Border 



Norttieast Riverbreal<s 




rtiiern & Eastern 
Ozarl< Border 



iVlississippi Lowiands 



FIGURE lb. Zoogeographic regions of Missouri. 



3 
O 
cc 

< 
a 



18.00 

16.00 

14.00 

12.00 

10.00 

8.00 

6.00 

4.00 

2.00 

0.00 




ritm 



nl \ I I I \ I 



1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 



STATEWIDE AVERAGE 



FIGURE 2, Statewide average number of quail counted per route from 1983-2010. 




llllllill.l. 



1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 
NORTHWESTERN PRAIRIE 




1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 
NORTHERN RIVERBREAKS 



40 
u 35 
h. 30 
O 25 
? 20 

2 10 



ii M iil L i h i 



illiliiliilrnr 



1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 
NORTHEASTERN RIVERBREAKS 




1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 
WESTERN PRAIRIE 




1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 
WESTERN OZARK BORDER 



40 J 

35 - 

30 - 

25 - 

20 - 

15 - 

10 - 

5 - 

- 



li.lllli..TT77 



1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 
OZARK PLATEAU 



40 

UJ 

1-35 
O30 
I 25 
<20 
015 




1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 
NORTHERN AND EASTERN OZARK BORDER 




1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 
MISSISSIPPI LOWLANDS 



FIGURE 3. Mean quail per 30-mile route by zoogeographic region from 1983-2010. 



2009-2010 Quail Hunter Cooperator Survey 



The Quail Hunter Cooperator Survey (QHCS) provides detailed measurement of 
hunting activity by avid Missouri quail hunters. The QHCS was conducted annually 
from 1983-1992 and in 1999-2000. We plan to administer the QHCS every other year 
starting with the 2009-2010 season. As Missouri's quail population and number of quail 
hunters have declined over the past several decades (i.e., 169,000 hunters in 1969 to 
fewer than 30,000 today), remaining quail hunters are specialists and more efficient at 
harvesting birds. The skill of the average hunter today is much higher than the skill of 
the average hunter when populations were high and many inexperienced hunters were 
active. 

In fall 2009, we sent hunting journals to individuals who had purchased a small game 
permit and reported harvesting quail in the 2008-2009 season. We collected journals 
from 115 participants. Statewide, cooperators flushed 0.44 coveys per hour, which is 
10% less than the 0.49 coveys flushed per hour in 2000, the last time this survey was 
conducted. Hunters spent 3.25 hours on a trip and harvested an average of 2.4 quail per 
trip. This survey will be conducted again in the 201 1-2012 season. Table 3 shows 
hunting metrics by zoogeographic region and Table 4 shows the metrics by land 
ownership type. 



TABLE 3. Quail hunting metrics by zoogeographic region from the Quail Hunter 
Cooperator Survey for the 2009-2010 season. 



Zoogeographic 
Region 


Coveys 
flushed/hour 


Harvest/gun 
hour* 


Harvest/trip 


Hours/trip 


N.W. Prairie 


0.37 


0.31 


2.74 


3.62 


N. Riverbreaks 


0.44 


0.34 


3.30 


3.84 


N.E. Riverbreaks 


0.55 


0.33 


1.91 


2.88 


W. Prairie 


0.44 


0.32 


2.43 


3.63 


W. Ozark Border 


0.56 


0.56 


4.15 


3.28 


Ozark Plateau 


0.31 


0.31 


1.20 


2.55 


N. & E. Ozark 
Border 


0.37 


0.28 


1.83 


2.97 


M. Lowlands 


0.32 


0.15 


0.67 


3.17 



*Harvest/gun hour=Number of birds harvested/number of individuals in hunting party. 

TABLE 4, Quail hunting metrics by land ownership from the quail hunter cooperator 
survey for the 2009-2010 season. See comment above. 



Land 
Ownership 


Coveys 
flushed/hour 


Harvest/gun 
hour 


Harvest/trip 


Hours/trip 


PUBLIC 


0.33 


0.23 


1.20 


2.68 


PRIVATE 


0.51 


0.39 


2.82 


3.23 


MDC 


0.24 


0.16 


1.11 


3.46 



Bobwhite Habitat Conditions 



Quail habitat conditions in Missouri vary from good to poor throughout the state. 
Over-grazing of fescue-dominated pastures, loss of native grass, removal of low growing. 



dense woody cover, and increased commodity prices have all led to losses in preferred 
bobwhite habitat. In addition to habitat loss, heavy winter snows hampers bird survival 
and three consecutive wet springs have impacted production. Wet springs also increase 
vegetative succession, resulting in thick, rank stands of grass and forbs that are unsuitable 
for bobwhite habitat. The Agents' Roadside Survey was conducted in the first two weeks 
of August, and we received many reports of broods later in the month, indicating a later 
than normal peak hatch. The heavy rainfall in June and July probably delayed peak hatch 
until August. 

Despite the poor weather conditions, providing quality habitat is still the key to 
improving bobwhite populations. Many programs are in place to assist private 
landowners in improving bobwhite habitat on their property, including the USDA 
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Conservation Buffers for Upland Birds (CP 33), 
MDC programs, and habitat programs from organizations including Quail Unlimited, 
Quail and Pheasants Forever, and the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation. 



RING-NECKED PHEASANT ABUNDANCE 

The Conservation Agents' Roadside Survey measures the number of pheasants 
observed along 72 standardized 30-mile routes (a subset of the routes sampled for 
bobwhites) during August 1-15 and provides a reliable predictor of fall pheasant harvest. 
The 2010 survey showed a continuing decline in Missouri's pheasant population. The 
2010 statewide count of 0.32 pheasants per 30-mile route was down 50% compared to 
2009, down 79% compared to the previous 5-year average (2005-2009), and 83%) lower 
than the 10-year average (2000-2009; Table 5). By zoogeographic region, counts were 
highest in the Northeast Riverbreaks (0.42 pheasants per 30-mile route, up 233% 
compared to 2009). Counts remained the same (0.29 pheasants per route) in the Northern 
Riverbreaks, and were lower in all other zoogeographic regions. Counts by MDC 
administrative region are shown in Table 6. 

A record low count of pheasants this year is not surprising due to the high 
snowfall and rainfall amounts received in the northwestern and northeastern portions of 
the state, which make up Missouri's primary pheasant range. Iowa also reported record 
low quail and pheasant counts this year due to heavy winter snows and wet spring 
weather. Loss of habitat continues to affect open- land species such as quail and 
pheasants. Acres of CRP land are being returned back to crop production, reducing the 
opportunity to provide habitat in these areas. 

Many programs are available to improve habitat for quail and pheasants through 
USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Conservation Buffers for Upland Birds 
(CP 33), MDC programs, and habitat programs from organizations including Quail 
Unlimited, Quail and Pheasants Forever, and the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation. 
The most recent CRP sign-up (Sign-up 39) shows that Missouri had just over 107,000 
acres offered with 98.6%) of acres offered accepted. 



TABLE 5. The number of pheasants observed along 30-mile routes from August 1-15, 
2010 by zoogeographic regions (see figure lb). 



Zoogeographic Regions 


2009 
Index 


2-year 

(2009-2010) 

% change 


5-year 

(2005-2009) 

% change 


10-year 

(2000-2010) 

% change 


Northwestern Prairie (18) 


0.32 


-82.9 


-89.1 


-89.7 


Northern Riverbreaks (21) 


0.29 





-69.7 


-83.2 


Northeastern Riverbreaks (24) 


0.42 


233.3 


-67.8 


-71.1 


Western Prairie (3) 


0.33 


-50.0 


-50.0 


-78.0 


Mississippi Lowlands (6) 





* 


* 


* 


STATEWIDE (72) 


0.32 


-50.0 


-78.5 


-82.9 



''Percent change not computed because of zero in numerator or denominator. 



TABLE 6. The number of pheasants observed along 30-mile routes from August 1-15, 
2010 by MDC administrative region (see figure la). 



Zoogeographic Regions 


2009 
Index 


2-year 

(2009-2010) 

% change 


5-year 

(2005-2009) 

% change 


10-year 

(2000-2010) 

% change 


Northwest (33) 


0.24 


-80.4 


-89.0 


-91.4 


Northeast (26) 


0.54 


366.7 


-53.7 


-58.4 


Kansas City (3) 





* 


* 


* 


Central (4) 


0.25 


-50.0 


-54.5 


-78.7 


Southeast (6) 





* 


* 


* 


STATEWIDE (72) 


0.32 


-50.0 


-78.5 


-82.9 



*Percent change not computed because of zero in numerator or denominator. 



BOBWHITE AND RING-NECKED PHEASANT HUNTING PROSPECTS 

Hunting prospects are poor for pheasants and quail for the 2010-201 1 season. 
Quail and pheasant numbers were highest in the Northeast Riverbreaks zoogeographic 
region. Areas that have a mix of cropland, native grasses, and shrubby cover provide the 
best opportunity to hunt for quail and pheasants. MDC maintains 19 Quail Emphasis 
Areas throughout the state that are managed specifically for quail. These areas can be 
found at the following website http://mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/birds/upland-game- 
birds/quail-emphasis-areas . 

For pheasant hunting, there is a youth-only season in the North zone (counties 
north of 1-70 and the portion of St. Charles County south of 1-70) on October 30-31. It is 
open to youth ages 6 through 15. Youths who are not hunter-education certified must 
hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed adult; however, the adult may not 
hunt pheasants. The regular pheasant season in the North zone is November 1, 2010 
through January 15, 201 1. The daily bag limit is 2 and the possession bag limit is 4. The 
Southeast zone (Dunklin, New Madrid, Pemiscot, and Stoddard counties) season runs 
from December 1-12, 2010. The daily bag limit is 1 and the possession bag limit is 1. 
Because pheasant harvest is limited to males, hunting has little impact on long-term 
population trends. 

There is also a youth-only season for quail on October 30-31, 2010. It is open to 
youth ages 6 through 15. Youths who are not hunter-education certified must hunt in the 
immediate presence of a properly licensed adult; however, the adult may not hunt quail. 
The regular quail season runs from November 1,201 0- January 15,2011. The daily bag 
limit is 8 and the possession bag limit is 16.